BOB WEST ON GOLF — Golf marks 25 years of Tiger Woods with awe and tributes

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The golf world marked a significant anniversary this past weekend – 25 years since Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour debut in the Greater Milwaukee Open. Tiger noted the occasion in 1996 with his “Hello World” press conference, then spent much of those next 25 years turning the game upside down with feats that remain mind boggling.

Every golf publication with any credibility celebrated the anniversary with some sort of take on Tiger’s feats and how golf will never be the same because of him. One clever approach involved the Golf Channel’s Brandell Chamblee, Jaime Diaz and others doing a podcast of what golf might have looked like had Tiger never come along.

Books have been written about Woods’ impact, so there is nowhere near enough space here to get too deep in 25th anniversary stuff. What follows, then, is a cherry picking of some of the more notable Tiger accomplishments over the past quarter century.

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According to National Golf Foundation Figures, Woods is responsible for 64 percent of beginning golfers taking up the game, 50 percent of new non-Caucasian golfers and a 21 percent increase in rounds played during the past 25 years.

Tiger’s $120.9 million in official tour earnings is nearly $26 million more than No. 2 Phil Mickelson during the time frame and almost $50 million more than anybody else.

Woods once played 52 consecutive tour rounds without ever posting a score over par. Jim Furyk is next at 38. In the same vein, Tiger once made 142 consecutive cuts over a 7.5-year period.

During one stretch in the early 2000s Woods simultaneously held the 72-hole scoring record in all four major championships. He also is the only player to win the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA and Masters in succession.

Since he didn’t do it in the same calendar year, the staggering run of success is known as the Tiger Slam instead of the Grand Slam. To help put that in perspective, keep in mind only five other players have ever won all four majors in their entire career.

Speaking of the majors, Woods is the only player in the modern era to have won one by double digits. He did it twice – winning the 1997 Masters by 12 shots and the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15.

One of my favorite Woods memories dates back to a television interview with Curtis Strange during that 1996 Milwaukee Open. In the course of the interview, Woods outlined his plans to dominate the tour by saying “second place sucks and third is even worse.”

A clearly condescending and smirking Strange attempted to put the brash kid in his place by saying, “You’ll learn.”

Twenty-five years later it would appear Strange is still trying to spit up all the crow he’s had to swallow.

CHIP SHOTS: Lowell Benoit of Port Neches and Christian Troung of Port Arthur celebrated holes-in-one at Babe Zaharias this past week.

Benoit bagged his first ever ace by sinking an 8-iron from 125 yards on No. 2. The shot was witnessed by Murphy DeMarcy and Charlie Iwasko.

Troung authored what was his fourth hole-in-one by sinking a 7-iron from 167 yards on the 7th hole. Chad Attaway witnessed the shot.

PNG ex Braden Bailey, who is working to sharpen his game for the first stage of the Korn Ferry Q School at the Golf Club of Houston Members Course Sept. 14-17, put together three solid rounds to finish T17 at last week’s Oklahoma Open.

Bailey carded rounds of 68-70-66 for a 54-hole total of 12-under par 204 over Oak Tree Golf Club outside Oklahoma City.

In the Tuesday Senior 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Cap Hollier, Gary Fontenot, Troy Touchet and a ghost player won the front with minus 3. That was also the winning score on the back for the team of Rick Pritchett, Cesar Chavez, Larry Johnson and Bob Wes.

The Monday Senior 50 Plus Game at Babe Zaharias was contested in a best-three-ball format. Winning the front with plus 3 was the team of Jim Cady, Tony Trevino, Dwayne Morvant and Dwayne Benoit. Plus 3 also won the back for the foursome of Ted Freeman, Pritchett, Rufus Reyes and Paul Duplantis.

Due to cart-path-only conditions from a two-inch rain, the Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias was contested in a par 4 game where all par 4s at played from 200 yards and par 5 are played as par 4s from 225 yards.

Winning the front with a sizzling minus 13 was the team of Gene Jones, Don MacNeil, Tom Brown and West. Taking the back at minus 10 was the foursome of James Shipley, Kenny Robbins Brian Mirabella and Everett Baker.

The Friday 2 ball at Zaharias, played in a 2 ball format, saw the team or Earl Richard, Bob Byerly, Jeff Rinehart and Roy Martinez win the front with minus 5. On the back the team of James Vercher, Pritchett, Jerry May and Benoit won with minus 3.

Closest to the pin winners were Martinez (No. 2), Cady (No. 7), Fontenot (No. 12) and Dan Flood (No. 15).

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was contested in an all-points-count format. Taking first with 29 points was the team of Ron Carlin, Pritchett, Benoit and Bill Jones. Teams captained by Joe Gongora and Danny Robbins tied for second with 25 points.

Closest to the pin winners were Charlie Leard (No. 2, 5 feet, 2 inches), Benoit (No. 7, 7-8), Cady (No. 12, 13 inches, No. 15 (6-6).

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